Monday, June 22, 2009

Vanish 1: Intro

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is doing Tom Pawlik’s Vanish. Curiously, it's not a cleanser as I expected, at least not a good one; I strongly advise against using it to clean a toilet, especially before reading it. On the other hand, it's quite good as a book, much better than the other stuff and not nearly as irritating. (Watch this blog for my upcoming analysis of whether product placement pays off.)

Anyway--what's the book about? (Hands up, everyone who expects a page count!) Well, according to the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, it's about lawyers, models (persons), mechanics (persons again), and storms. Note that apparently neither storms nor lawyers are persons; this seems correct.

Specifically, the lawyer is Conner Hayden, biologically male, though the species may make it hard to tell. As the story opens, he is impersonating a rat, to the consternation of all true rodents, encouraging some nice people to sue a nice doctor and gain a small settlement while losing their own souls. And on the topic of losing one's soul, today he keeps seeing people without faces. As a lawyer, this shouldn't be a new experience, but somehow it troubles him. Maybe he likes the look of fear.

He heads home to his splendid solitude, marred only by a side-trip to his past: an ex-wife, an ex-daughter, and a personal tragedy to be named later. By contractual obligation he brings his daughter home, and as a matter of paternal indulgence doesn't sue her for anything. Yet.

Following an argument in which his daughter claims to be doing the religious thing willingly, not under coercion, he steps out to see whether there's a mysterious, plot-launching cloud around, as the Weather Channel claimed. There is. Curses. He can't sue them this time.

Meanwhile, sometime model Helen Krause is being told that she's too old to act her age. She heads home to find her son, Kyle, and a birthday/farewell party: he's leaving town (and her) for better things. Distraught, she decides to step outside to look for unearthly storm clouds. She's in luck--or not...

Meanwhile again, Mitch Kent, a mechanic (person), is finalizing plans to buy a garage and get engaged to his girlfriend. He's too well organized to buy his girlfriend and get engaged to a garage, which is just as well. However, he too develops a kind of familial crisis: his long-despised and -ignored father calls up to say that he (the father) has cancer and wants to patch things up. Annoyed that his father would call him just to die at him, Mitch hops on his motorcycle and heads off to propose to his girl, completely ignoring a storm warning on the Foreshadowing Channel. Sure enough, he soon sees a strange cloud in the mirror, right above the note that "Objects in mirror may be uncannier than they appear."

The next thing the three know, they come to roughly where they saw the storm. There's no sign of anyone else, but instead of assuming that they've missed the Rapture (not really on their personal radar anyway) they decide to go looking for everyone and bump into one another and a few other leftovers. Along the way they also have disturbing visions from their past--well, Conner and Mitch do; Helen doesn't so much for some reason. And Conner keeps having these searing chest pains.

But the real creep factor is that they occasionally spot people-like objects in the shadows. These creatures have no faces, but they still whisper a lot. They also turn out to be immune to gunfire, which is a bit annoying. Worse yet, from Conner's standpoint, they have no respect for subpoenas. Oh, and from time to time they grab someone and drag him off screaming to his doom. (I hate when that happens!)

Is it an alien invasion? Are they victims of Rod Serling's posthumous powers? What happens when you say "Langoliers" backwards? For answers to completely different questions--mostly "What are the strengths of Vanish, at least as compared to Comet?"--tune in again tomorrow.

Meanwhile, check these links to see whether a mysterious storm has waylaid the rest of the CSFF Blog Tour:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Donita K. Paul
Epic Rat
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler


Keanan Brand said...

No storms have taken me yet, nor have I attempted to scrub the bathtub or any other restroom fixtures with my copy of the book, but I'm sure it would be a non-abrasive cleanser. Meantime, it makes for a darn good read!

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

I laughed my way through that entire review. Would you please write a Vanish spoof?

Steve said...

I do spoof reviews on occasion; look under Genuine Fake Reviews.

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